Lemon Olive Oil Cake
Buttermilk and olive oil keep this cake supremely moist, while lemon juice and zest impart bold lemon flavor. Serve this lemon olive oil cake for dessert or enjoy with your morning cup of coffee!
Olive oil … in cake? Yes! Olive oil adds so much moisture to baked goods and keeps them fresh for days.
Plus, olive oil has a more complex flavor than either vegetable oil or butter, so it automatically makes simple desserts like this lemon olive oil cake taste more interesting and nuanced.
This cake recipe has a Mediterranean flair to it thanks to the citrus and olive oil in the batter. Even better, it’s made with just a few basic ingredients that I always have in my pantry and fridge.
Because this olive oil lemon cake isn’t iced, it’s perfect for dessert or with your morning cup of coffee. If you’re serving the cake for dessert, I recommend adding a dollop of whipped cream to your plate as well as some fresh berries!
This is an easy, whisk-together lemon cake recipe that just happens to be made with olive oil. The oil just makes the recipe taste more interesting — the cake is still plenty lemony, don’t worry!
I’ve provided the full ingredient list in the recipe card below, but let’s quickly review the key things you’ll need to make this cake:
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil: I highly recommend using extra virgin olive oil because it adds a beautiful flavor to this cake. If you’re worried about the flavor you can use regular olive oil or even a light olive oil instead.
- Lemons: You will need approximately 2 to 3 medium lemons to have enough lemon juice and zest for the cake.
- Cake flour: Contains less protein than all-purpose flour, which results in softer baked goods. If you don’t keep cake flour on hand, you can make a substitute using just flour and cornstarch.
- Buttermilk: Adds moisture and makes for a more tender cake. I highly recommend using the real stuff for this recipe, but in a pinch you can make a buttermilk substitute in about 10 minutes.
- Eggs: Provide structure and add moisture to the cake.
How to Make Lemon Olive Oil Cake
This recipe comes together quickly and easily, and while you don’t need any special ingredients you will need to have a springform pan on hand. Here’s an overview of the baking process:
- Prep the pan: Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Then, grease a 9-inch springform pan with non-stick spray. I also recommend lining the bottom of the pan with parchment paper. This will make it much easier to remove it later on!
- Whisk together the dry ingredients: In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- Whisk together the wet ingredients: In another bowl, add the sugar, olive oil, buttermilk, eggs, lemon juice and zest, and vanilla extract. Whisk until everything is well combined.
- Finish the batter: Mix the dry ingredients into the wet, making sure not to over mix the batter. Note: the batter will be thin, this is normal!
- Bake the cake: Pour the batter into the prepared pan, then bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Cool completely: Once the cake is finished baking, let it cool for 1 hour before running a knife around the edges to release it from the springform pan. Once the cake is completely cool, dust it with powdered sugar right before serving.
What Type of Olive Oil Is Best for This Recipe?
Extra virgin olive oil will deliver the most flavor, and it’s what I recommend using. You’ll taste the olive oil in the finished cake, but it won’t be overwhelming by any means.
Remember that there’s 1/4 cup of lemon juice in the cake batter as well as a full tablespoon of zest, so you need a stronger olive oil to complement the citrus flavors.
However, if you don’t love the taste of olive oil or are on the fence about using it for baking, you can also use regular olive oil to make the recipe. Just keep in mind that regular olive oil doesn’t have as strong a flavor as extra virgin olive oil.
Can the Olive Oil Be Substituted?
You could technically use another oil, like melted coconut, canola, or vegetable oil. However, the flavor of the olive oil is what really makes this cake!
If you don’t have olive oil on hand or don’t want to use it, you’re welcome to try my regular lemon cake instead.
Can This Recipe Be Made with Another Pan?
Yes! If you don’t have a springform pan, you can pour the batter into a greased 9×13 pan and bake for approximately 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Make sure all of your ingredients are at room temperature before getting started, this will ensure that the batter mixes together evenly. If you forget to set your eggs out ahead of time, place them in a bowl of warm water for 5 to 10 minutes. If your buttermilk is cold, warm it in the microwave for 15 to 20 seconds.
- To get the most juice out of your lemons, roll them on the counter firmly with the palm of your hand before slicing into them.
- The cake batter will be very thin, so don’t be alarmed when you see it! It bakes up tall and fluffy in the oven, which is why a springform pan is needed.
- Let the cake cool in the pan for an hour before releasing the sides. This gives it time to set before being removed.
- This cake is wonderful by itself, but I love to dust it with a little powdered sugar or serve it with some homemade whipped cream.
More Lemon Desserts to Make!
Lemon Olive Oil Cake
- 2 cups cake flour spooned & leveled (230 grams)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 ½ cups granulated sugar (300 grams)
- ⅔ cup extra virgin olive oil (160 ml)
- ⅔ cup buttermilk at room temperature (160 ml)
- 3 large eggs at room temperature
- ¼ cup fresh lemon juice (60 ml)
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Grease a 9-inch springform pan with nonstick cooking spray and line the bottom with parchment paper. Set aside.
- In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- In a separate large mixing bowl, whisk together the granulated sugar, extra virgin olive oil, buttermilk, eggs, lemon juice, lemon zest, and vanilla extract until fully combined.
- Mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just combined. The batter will look very thin, this is normal! Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
- Bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Remove from the oven and cool in the pan for at least one hour on a wire rack. Slide a knife around the outside of the cake and release it from the springform pan.
- Allow to cool completely before slicing and serving. Dust with powdered sugar or top with homemade whipped cream right before serving.
Adapted from: Spice & Spirit Cookbook – Lemon Bundt Cake
How many servings does this cake make?
I usually slice it into 8 pieces.
It gives the servings in her post. You just have to scroll until you reach it.
Hi Danielle, I live in an area where there is an olive mill farm and they produce a lemon olive oil that is amazing. I was wondering what you think about substituting 1:1 lemon olive oil for the olive oil in this recipe.
That sounds amazing, Jenn! I think it would work just fine to substitute it 1:1. If their olive oil has a pretty strong lemon flavor, you may want to reduce the lemon zest to 1 to 2 teaspoons or even omit it from the recipe.
Hello, do you think I could possibly sub orange juice/zest for the lemon? I just prefer orange over lemon. Wasn’t sure if would work with the olive oil?? Thanks….this cake looks so easy and delish!!
Absolutely! You can just swap the lemon juice and zest with an equal amount of orange juice and zest.
Does it come out very shallow in a 9×13 pan?
Yes, the cake will be a little thinner if you use a 9×13 pan.
Danielle, I made the lemon olive oil cake and it was a big hit. I now am going to make it for the second time but I am wondering if I can make it in a pan where the bottom is removable, not a springform pan.. I had to throw away my springform pan after making the lemon cake. It leaked live a sieve.
So glad you enjoyed the cake, Ruth! It would be fine to use a regular cake pan as long as it’s deep enough to hold all of the batter. You can also bake it in a 9×13 pan for approximately 30 minutes.
Thanks for your quick reply. I am not much of a baker but so far I have made two of your recipes, both very good and easy.
Hope your day is going well.
Yet another outstanding recipe from Danielle. This cake is a beautiful alternative to frosted cakes and breakfast pastries like muffins, scones or coffee cake. I had my doubts when I saw how thin the batter was but the texture of this cake is perfect. There is just the right balance of olive oil and lemon. It’s gotten rave reviews from people, some of whom are accomplished chefs. It’s on the menu for Easter brunch. So thankful for the many exceptional recipes Danielle has developed and shared.
Thank you, Michael!